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Embracing life is how to deal with shooting

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I walk to the St. Augustine, Fla., beach to watch the sun rise on my second day of trying to make sense of whatever principalities of darkness possessed Las Vegas shooter Stephen Paddock. How frustrating that Mr. Paddock, to avoid capture, killed himself; taking with him, apparently, our best source for knowing the reasons for his wholly unreasonable madness.

The Atlantic Ocean along St. Augustine’s coastline, pushed by high winds and full moon, covers nearly the whole beach area with saltwater and thick sea foam. Each crashing wave rolls across the beach, pushing ahead of it white or brownish foam. Then the waves recede, leaving behind thick lines of foam on the sand. Like a mythical giant blowing across the head on a mug of beer, steady, high winds carry away globs of foam to who knows where.

The new day sun rising up out of the Atlantic horizon is spectacular, even as the ocean is still churning after a string of hurricanes.

Waiting for the sun, trying to figure out Mr. Paddock’s private hell, I am also troubled by some of the post-Las Vegas shooting instant demands for abolishing the U.S. Constitution’s Second Amendment which protects our right to bear arms.

Most of all, I am very concerned when U.S. citizens are demanding this radical change based on — what? One country music performer at the Las Vegas concert sent out a Tweet saying he was wrong about supporting the Second Amendment. Several members of his entourage, he said, had concealed carry permits and firearms. But because they couldn’t use their concealed weapons against the shooter — what is the point of having a Second Amendment?

Our Second Amendment is there principally to protect U.S. citizens against government. This column is not the place for a full Second Amendment discussion. My point is, major decisions made in ignorance are never wise. Neither is it wise to give weight to arguments based primarily on celebrity. Let’s first have a grounding in American and world history, with a keen understanding of human nature.

These thoughts in mind at the beach, something small, dark, moving near the ground catches my eyes. A full size, darkish feathered, immature seagull has washed up with the sea foam onto the beach. Feathers drenched and heavy with salt water, the bird is exhausted. Every time it musters strength to stand, to move its wings, the wind and the water weight press the seagull back down onto the sand.

How do you save a seagull fighting to stay alive? I don’t know. But I know I can at least move the bird to shelter on dry, higher ground.

Approaching the gull from the front so it can see me, I speak quietly, calmly. Moving slowly to its side while maintaining eye contact, I place the palms of my hands against the bird’s outstretched wings, gently folding the wings in against the gull’s body.

The bird’s eyes are alert. It doesn’t resist my lifting it out of the wind and foam. I find a sand dune with some dune grass, and set the gull down, partially hidden, and protected from the strong wind. He can rest in this spot, I think, dry out, regain his strength, and fly away.

But, the seagull dies.

The odds are very long I will again find another struggling seagull. But, in the wake of this bird’s death I can, and will, find out what more I might have done to save this one. If there is a next time, I will be better prepared. This, I reason, is something positive I can do now.

Understanding the darkness and ignorance of Las Vegas will come later.

Scott K. Fish has served as a communications staffer for Maine Senate and House Republican caucuses, and was communications director for Senate President Kevin Raye. He founded and edited AsMaineGoes.com and served as director of communications/public relations for Maine’s Department of Corrections until 2015. He is now using his communications skills to serve clients in the private sector.

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